Who is Self Help Sunday?

A little bit about me


I’m a mid-fifties northern Californian who retired in November 2015. I’ve always liked to write, but haven’t really written much creatively since 6th grade. Sixth grade was when I wrote a story in my AP English class and it garnered a bit of praise from the teacher. Writing that story was almost an out-of-body experience. I woke up with ideas and the writing process flowed.

I read that story recently, and I cringed just a bit. Well, I was only in 6th grade.

Writing has been part of my work life but has mainly been in the form of varying types of government communication: legislative and policy analysis, programmatic and fiscal guidance, and grants. I’m looking forward to just writing what I want and being myself – whoever that is.

Because I’m not always sure. I’m very fortunate to have retired at a young age and it sure beats working. However, it is a transition. I’m still in the process of figuring all of it out.

So this is one of the things I’ve wanted to do: start a blog. So here it is. #blogging101 #retirement #writing

MAYBE some fall weather

I’ve been in a bit of a moderate mood – not bad, not good, a few ups and downs as usual. I impulsively signed up for a trail run in early December, the same one as the last “real” one I did before COVID hit and things shut down. Not sure if anyone will join me – I shared with a few friends who shared the adventure with me in 2019 but they aren’t ready to commit.

So the impact that had, just signing up for that run, was that it motivated me to get back on the trails today. Not much, a 3 miler near my house, but enough to be different. When I returned, I did my strength training exercises, which wear me out but are essential.

Overall, things are okay. I am THRILLED to have colder weather – which for us, is 67 degrees now at 5 p.m. but overnight it has been in the ’40s. It also has been quite windy, and a reminder of the bad fires that hit Santa Rosa in 2018. Before this year, fire season was more or less limited to September and October but now it’s pretty much all year. I’m praying for rain and snow, like most people here in CA. There was a bit of a sprinkling of the white stuff on the mountains last weekend, but doubt it will stay. For once, we proactively washed out the gutters before RAIN (please) hits and all of the gunk clogs up the downspout.

Art classes are continuing, and have been fun, but feel a bit rushed. My instructor had to cut back on her teaching because she was juggling some financial changes, so the sessions went from 6 weeks to 5, and from 2.5 hours to 2. I’m taking watercolor and drawing, and at least once in each class, I have messed up what we are doing. It is just practice, I know.

My brother in law ran the Boston Marathon again, his fourth time. My sister joined him there this week, and they are headed to New Hampshire to visit our aunt. They have done some interesting things this year. They went to Yellowstone in September and are planning a trip to Pittsburgh so my BIL can run that marathon. He is from Pittsburgh, so they will combine that trip with visiting his brother.

I have simultaneously wanting to travel and reluctant to deal with the hassles. We are planning a short trip to the North Bay Area soon, so shorter distances in the car seem to be best for me right now. My husband keeps mentioning driving to San Diego for Christmas but the thought fills me with dread. It is a long trip, and in recent experience, I end up doing most of the driving so it doesn’t thrill me.

Well, this blog is long overdue. I have started and added and saved drafts several times, so time to hit publish. Thanks for reading.

Subtly ignoring the passage of time

Note: I drafted this about a week ago and promptly forgot to post! So here it is anyway!

It is September, but it was only yesterday late that I changed my tablecloth. That’s a regular monthly routine with me but somehow, I didn’t get around to it. And, the calendar in this room is still on August.

Now that I think back, it’s because last week turned out to be busier than expected. We had planned to have my stepson and girlfriend visit us, but given how bad the fires and air quality have been, decided it would be better for us to drive and meet them in the Bay Area. So we did that. It was kind of tiring as there is so much traffic. And it’s stressful, people drive fast and then there is a lot of stop and go. I was sure we would be rear ended several times. So between that trip, and needing a day or so to recover, last week seems to have just slipped by.

I did meet friends for a walk on Tuesday, the 3 women who did the cancer strength training class with me. We are trying to meet on Tuesdays for a brief walk. And I managed to get out Friday morning for an early bike ride of 14 miles. The reward is coffee afterwards, done in a leisurely fashion, as most of us don’t work anymore. It’s less stressful for those who do, as everyone is still working from home so there is less of an issue about getting showered and into work clothes.

Yesterday, a big group of us met to kayak on nearby Lake Natoma. The air was a bit iffy but we were out early and shut things down around noon. It was very nice to be with folks again, and love that the convener has included that the events require attendees to vaccinate.

Speaking of which, I received a notice to schedule a booster shot! Which I promptly did, for Friday. I did not have any reaction, other than being slightly tired, although it could have been from the quick trip to the Bay Area a day earlier! My poor hubby. He so wanted to get a booster now. They are still figuring out who will be eligible next. I think my cancer diagnosis triggered it.

It’s still really hot here but the AQI is a bit better. Staying indoors, paying bills, maybe doing some reading. Hope your weekend has been good and that a good week lies ahead. Thanks for reading.

At least, a shower.

This could be under the heading of small gratitudes. Of which I’m struggling with lately.

The fires have been catastrophic. By the time this is published, the Caldor Fire may have reached South Lake Tahoe. It has already swept through many places that I love to visit and hike, where several friends live. A whole town (Grizzly Flats) was destroyed. I can’t really add to the conversation other than I’m feeling fairly hopeless about the state of our world.

When I’m not worrying about the fires devastating communities, I worry about the air we are subjected to. It’s bad. Right now the AQI is 141. It has been over 250 and it is 101 degrees as I write this. I went to the gym today and had a mask on the whole time I walked on the treadmill. It was uncomfortable, hot, I got sweaty. No one else I saw there was masked, except for employees. I had to get some exercise so did what I had to. Bypassing all of the COVID distress, I have enough in other places.

Being proximal to water is not very comforting these days. Folsom Lake is low, lower than low. I haven’t gone on the trails near there since March. It was depressing to see clear evidence of how little rain we had this year. I am frugal with water. I do my darndest not to waste any. My shower was quick, catching cold water in the bucket, getting in while it was still cool, turning it off between washing. I will use the bucket water on trees and plants.

I wish I could be upbeat, but have heard it said this is the coolest summer we will have going forward. I used to say the heat here didn’t bother me, after living in the south. But it has; this year, the past few. I can’t open the windows at night or in the morning, there is smoke. The outside, which what I love, isn’t a respite anymore.

I feel deeply for the poor wildlife that are outside and don’t have the option to get out of the heat and smoke. Or have their homes destroyed.

So before ending this…I just finished an interesting book, The Little Stranger. I’ve had the book for awhile and am working on reading books I’ve had on the shelf. (Or shelves, in my case). I liked it, though not something I think normally I would. It’s described as a gothic novel and something about that hasn’t appealed in the past. Check it out!

Here are the girls – you can see the smoke out of our front window, which is usually open for them to watch the birds.

Taffy – Saturday out the window
Trinket – wanting the window open

Phew. It’s a learning process.

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There have been a few bumps as I re-learn WordPress. The format and set up is different from when I signed on a few years back. So, I had noticed when I returned a few weeks ago that a blog from 2018 kept appearing on the landing page rather than the most recent one. I tried everything I could think of to move it and change the formatting so that the most recent appeared. To no avail so I queried the online support. It was little bit less than responsive. It seemed like I would be asked a question about the problem I was having, then I’d wait for a response for 10 minutes, then have to refresh the window to see it. Frustrated, I gave up.

Finally, I read the latest recommendation from the support person more carefully. A ha. I clicked through the menus more carefully. I unclicked the box as was suggested. I think it’s fixed.

Just the way things are sometimes. It takes a few tries, it takes stepping away for a bit. It takes a bit more time.

A few things around here seem to be ending their life span. This laptop is pretty old, as these things go. I think I bought it in 2014, and have gone through a few batteries. I dread getting a new one. More to learn and navigate. Worrying about where and if everything is saved. But I had more memory installed last year and I still have issues in shutting it down and it seems to get hot pretty easily. So it may be sooner rather than later.

My phone is also on the watch list. It is a 2017, which doesn’t seem that long ago, but again, in the tech world, it’s outdated. I hope it gives me some warning before it dies. We’ve also been getting a warning from our refrigerator. It has been making a weird noise (very technical term) for several days. Now, I haven’t been ignoring it. I finally caught up with the repair person and I appreciated that he asked me a bunch of questions about the problem, then said it’s normal for that model of that age. And, if it stops cooling food, then call him. How often does that happen, where a person is willing to save you a $65 charge?

I also learned that it’s been awhile since I’ve walked a distance over 5 miles. I did it yesterday with my husband, and today with a friend, and boy am I tired. It’s a good tired though. I like the feeling of having a bit of fatigue brought about by a long walk. And I was glad to get outside when the air quality was okay.

So that’s a bit of what’s happening here. Thanks for reading.

Beach time.

Lots of shorebirds

I’m just back from a few days at one of my favorite places – Pajaro Dunes . We discovered this place a few years ago, need a break from the valley heat. We were really wanted some beach time, but not wanting to go to Southern California and logistically and financially, not able to go to Hawaii (another favorite place!). We’ve been three different times, twice staying at the same condo and this time, staying right next door! We hadn’t planned that, but the place that we had rented back in March was sold a month ago and we had to scramble to find something else. Yes, there was a day of panic as we searched desperately to find something else in the area that was available and not astronomically expensive. We didn’t even realize it was next door until we pulled up to the building.

I love this Pajaro Dunes because it is right on the ocean so you can walk right out to the beach. It is fairly secluded, in a gated community at the end of a rural road in the midst of strawberry fields. There is a slough that runs alongside the property that is protected, and there is a ton of wildlife, including lots of shore birds. During our trip, we saw a sea otter foraging in the waves while we were walking! A thrill for me, since I’m nuts for those creatures. Today, as we were leaving, we saw several small bunnies. There are pelicans, sea gulls, plovers, pipers and cormorants. Many more, but those are ones I could look up quickly!

Sea lions
Sea lions in the harbor

We don’t do a lot when we are there. A walk on the beach in the morning, reading and relaxing the rest of the day. We don’t even turn on the TV which for me is heaven. This time, we decided to go on an excursion operated by Elkhorn Slough Safari. I really wanted to see otters, and this seemed like the best way since we don’t kayak (yet!). It was a nice easy tour, with a naturalist on board and wasn’t rocky so that Ken (hubby) got seasick. We saw plenty of otters, as well as a harbor seal and lots of sea lions! Lots of birds too and what I loved was that each time they go out, the safari captain keeps a wildlife log. Their findings have helped assist wildlife researchers in the area. So I loved that they are a responsible local business and endorsed by local environmental groups.

We also went to Capitola one afternoon, but found it a bit wanting. Too busy, touristy, expensive. I think we walked around for 45 minutes then left! Back to the seclusion of the beach at Pajaro Dunes. We typically bring some food to eat as well as breakfast and snack items. Dinner can be picked up easily in town; there are several good Mexican restaurants as well as chains. There’s also a famous seafood place, Phil’s and we also takeout from there as well. I’ve had the same thing the past few times, the blackened prawns. Yum. They have a huge menu and specials every week.

We are back now to the heat. I swam this morning and went to the grocery store. After eating somewhat unhealthily, I stocked up on veggies and fruit. I’m glad those are things that I like and enjoy and crave them after a few days of healthier foods.

I just finished a book, Malibu Rising, that was an easy read. I wasn’t too sure about it and almost gave up 75 pages in. My limit is usually 100, so gave it another shot. It was entertaining and light reading but would probably give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Well, I’d better hit publish on this or it won’t get done. I’m still not in the habit of writing here but am connecting with a few more of the Spark Friends who are also blog writers so I’m glad we can still stay in touch. Thanks for reading.

Six months.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This morning I had my six month check up with my surgical oncologist. I haven’t seen her since my surgery on 12/18. My follow up post surgery was with her PA.

Things are fine, mostly. I still have redness from radiation all over that left breast, which she said would likely remain. I still have pain, depending on the day. It’s due to increased density from the radiation. I can’t wear bras comfortably, but she suggested doing so would help, especially a compression-type bra, like a sports bra. I’ll try. I find when I do wear one, for regular walks, cycling, etc, I have more pain.

She also wants me to revisit taking a medication to prevent a re-occurrence. For post menopausal women, these are aromatase inhibitors. I tried one for a month and had negative side effects – trouble sleeping, depression, irritability. I will get in touch with my medical oncologist to talk about trying another.

My husband’s birthday was yesterday and it was low key. We set off on a bike ride but we really waited too long as it’s been really hot here. He had some physical issues at our turn around, so I went back and was planning on getting the car to fetch him. Luckily, he felt better and was able to make it home. The rest of they day was eating Thai takeout, cupcakes from Icing on the Cupcake (they have a daily vegan one), and watching a movie. We rented “News of the World” with Tom Hanks and it was good. I like most of his movies. I got KT a new bike jersey (bright yellow) and tickets to see Hamilton here in Sacramento. I wasn’t sure he’d be too keen on that, as there has been a recent rise in COVID cases in the area. It’s not until September so hopefully things will get better.

I just finished a good book – When Will there be Good News by Kate Atkinson. It’s part of a series, and this one was particularly interesting to me because one of the characters was a young girl who was pretty scrappy. Check out the series if you like a well written detective/mystery genre.

PS. I am linking things just so you can find out more information.

Well, I hope everyone who reads this is staying safe and well.

It’s been awhile….Beeshell8’s new place

……..and now WordPress looks and acts completely different than when I blogged before so we will see how this goes. I’m another “refugee” from Sparkpeople, thus the “Beeshell8” in the title. Beeshell8 was my Spark user name, so am hoping this will help Spark friends find me here.

I started this blog several years ago, thinking and hoping I would write here in a more general way and about other things than fitness and weight loss, which is what the focus is on Sparkpeople. Also, Sparkpeople felt safer and familiar and change is hard. I was given the push back here when it was announced that the free Sparkpeople site is shutting down, and a different version will be available. Many folks who were regular bloggers on that site are migrating to different platforms. Quite a few are on Blogger, but thought I’d stay on WordPress for awhile. I like learning new things, but not as much as I used to.

So what’s new? I started this post almost a week ago, on a Sunday, the day I originally had planned to write! It’s been the usual hot here in Northern California like many places. We got a bit of a reprieve this week, so I was able to open the house in the evening and mornings to let the fan run, and enjoy some cool air. I’ve swam a few times, walked a few.

Last week I had an infusion treatment to address my osteoporosis. I guess when they find something wrong with you, like cancer, it’s the beginning of finding other things wrong. Which is what happened with the osteoporosis. I was supposed to start taking an aromatase inhibitor, to prevent the reoccurrence of future tumors, and that drug leaches calcium. So I had a bone scan and there it was.

I put off dealing with it for about a month. I had heard a few horror stories about the side effects and just DID NOT feel like dealing with it. But, I finally did and had the appointment last Saturday. It really was okay, much easier than radiation. I was in a private room and once the IV is in, you just wait until the bag is empty. I was tired afterwards, and slept for a few hours in the afternoon. Not like I was planning on doing much. It was 109 degrees!

This week I’ve been back to volunteering at our library. Although most branches don’t allow volunteers in, ours went through a move and re-model soon after COVID shut down most branches and so there has been a lot to do to get things ready. I’m excited about the changes; it’s all new carpet, furniture, technology and even a new collection of books for when we open.

So this will be my new home away from Sparkpeople, at least for the time, and hope my friends from there can find me here! Have a good weekend and thanks for reading.

The Little Things

Every month, I change my tablecloth. It’s a little thing that makes me happy – to have something clean and pretty to greet me in the morning. We eat breakfast in the dining room and it’s one of the things I really treasure, is being able to have that routine of drinking the first cup of coffee and reading the paper in the morning, along with KT and the cats. The first part of the month is when it’s clean….the cats get on there so by the end of the month, not so much…

This month, it’s tan with some blue flowers and green place mats. I’ve added a little car decoration that’s the same green as the tablecloths. I have quite a few little vases and things that were in the Colorado cabin that belonged to my grandparents. It’s difficult because this is the stuff that takes up space and no one really wants. I actually have another box of these things up above the garage that I never unpacked after one trip out to the cabin when my dad was still alive. He was pushing us to take stuff as the cabin was quite old and not winterized. In the past, it had been broken into.

The tablecloth! The table in the back near the window is for the cats…supposedly

So, this is just a little thing that made me happy after I got through a project that I had been putting off for the library.

Yesterday my happy was a 16 mile bike ride with a friend and stopping for Starbucks and discovering nitro cold brew with caramel and soy. Yum! I don’t get Starbucks regularly but this was great! And hit the spot, since we started our ride WAY too late for the hot weather we’re having the past two days. It was in the high 90’s by the time we got back at around noon and it’s 100 today.

Again and again, I’m reminded of how life is so short. Another person I know died recently of cancer, she was only 43. Sometimes I look at our sweet kitties and panic thinking I don’t know how I could say goodbye to them. Ken is getting older, he is tired a lot after his days at cardio rehab and rests in the afternoons. Heck, I’ve never been a napper but sometimes I feel like lying down too!

So there are my words for today. Thank you for reading and may you find your happy in the small ways today.


I’m a bit old school in some ways. I still like to read a newspaper though I augment it with daily news online. One of the things I noticed right off when we let our paper subscription lapse was that I didn’t do the daily word jumble and I didn’t clip out articles and comics.

That isn’t the worst thing – as I’ve just gone through the piles and stacks in my yoga room and tried to sort them, file them or throw them away. I haven’t gotten the hang of a system that I could file these electronically, and something seems lost to me if I don’t have the piece of newspaper to hold in my hands.

It’s a familiarity thing. My parents did this, and when I was at camp or at college, I often would get clippings, comics or articles from my parents in letters from them. Things they saw and thought I’d like. Something that I would find funny.

Yes, letters. That thing of the past that I am grateful I got to experience and now cherish. I have letters and notes from my parents that I can read again and look at their personal writing. I can see how they write “love” in their signature. I notice the change in their writing style and penmanship as they aged or went through their respective illnesses.

Messy, yes. Priceless, absolutely.

Do you still clip things out of the newspaper?

girl reading a newspaper

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